Dip in air quality takes toll on villagers’ health - ECAS Punjab

Dip in air quality takes toll on villagers’ health

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Aman Sood
Tribune News Service
Patiala, October 21

With a rise in stubble burning incidents, air quality has dropped sharply in the countryside and villagers are facing health problems.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has about 48 manual machines to record air quality, with 24 located in villages. The machines put air quality in the "poor to very poor" category in terms of particulate matter. The data compiled from the manual stations, a majority of them in rural Punjab, shows that air quality is deteriorating.

The Tribune revealed air quality in majority of the villages had deteriorated from "moderate" to "poor" in the past month following a rise in fire incidents.

Each year air quality in the state deteriorates after paddy is harvested, but the PPCB has "no mechanism to record the air quality index (AQI) and get real-time data in villages" where a majority of the stubble is burnt.

The data compiled by the manual machines installed confirmed that the pollution-level was high in villages, especially in winter.

For the past few years, the state is banking on modern air monitoring stations located in Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh, Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar which give accurate real-time AQI data. However, none of these five stations are located in rural Punjab, where most of the stubble is burnt.

A senior PPCB official said an AQI station required an investment of Rs 1 crore in addition to the running cost.

A senior official claimed that there was no denying fact that the date from the manual stations in villages was alarmingly high as the wind speed was low and the farmers continued to burn stubble.

"The manual machines record air quality every alternate day and its average reading can be hit in case of a thunderstorm or stubble being burnt nearby," he added.

Confirming the developments, PPCB member-secretary Karunesh Garg said the pollutants in villages were high due to residue from paddy flying in the air and also due to residue from grain markets impacting the air quality.

"Villagers in the state are more prone to fall sick due to the poor AQI and it is high time they shun stubble burning completely as it is impacting their health," he said.

from The Tribune https://ift.tt/35lH4TZ

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